Alan Abel from Complete Weed Control gives turf managers advice as we enter the spraying season
Winter seems to have gone on and on. The moment we think we are in for some better weather, we seem to take a backwards step. In different areas of the UK and Ireland the weather has been colder but on the whole the winter has been one of the wettest in recent memory.
Mildness before Christmas led to a lot of vegetation growth, but late frosts in February and March is slowing spring down and damaging the budding trees.
In November the 'Grandfather Rights' were taken away as part of the new legislation that is in force as part of the SUD and the National Action Plan. The establishment of National Action Plans - compulsory testing of application equipment; provision of training for, and arrangements for the certification of, operators, advisors and distributors; a ban (subject to limited exceptions) on aerial spraying; provisions to protect water, public spaces and conservation areas; the minimisation of risks from handling, storage and disposal; and the promotion of low input regimes (including Integrated Pest Management (IPM). For more information on the legislation that exists, it is worth spending time on the website below.
This means that all persons applying pesticides must now hold NPTC Pesticide Application module One and then either PA Six for using a knapsack and PA Two for using a boom type sprayer. This has led to a rush of people trying to get these qualifications in time for the new up and coming spraying season.
Many smaller sports clubs have had someone holding the Grandfather right and this will lead to these clubs to arrange for training, as attached to this legislation is the necessity for the NPTC certificate is required to be shown or stated when buying any pesticide.
In addition to this, under the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD), all pesticide application equipment requires an NSTS test certificate from 26 November 2016, but it is surprising that the National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) has been in place since 2003.
Annual inspection of application equipment shows best practice. It also ensures maximum sprayer efficiency and can reduce costly downtime. It shows commitment to the Voluntary Initiative and satisfies industry protocols. All self-propelled, trailed or mounted equipment with a boom width over 3 metres will require testing. A test must be carried out every 5 years from 26 November 2016 and every 3 years from 26 November 2020. Handheld (including knapsack) sprayers should be regularly checked and a record kept. This checklist can be found on the NSTS website. www.nsts.org.uk
All these hoops that need to be jumped through are sensible when you think about the costs of pesticides and the care that must be taken during the application window. If the sprayer calibration was 10% out, then the cost increase is significant. Also there may be issues with the turf that has been treated with scorching etc.
When you combine this with the WFD (Water Framework Directive) which is probably the most important EU legislation that is affecting pesticide application, there is so much for all of us to understand with regards to our industry and what a fragile situation exists and how careful we must all be to guarantee the existence of herbicides for the future of economic weed and disease control.
It's not just getting the machine out of the shed and hoping it isn't leaking when you pressurise it.
If pesticides are found in water extremely small concentrations: (i.e. an aspirin pill in an Olympic size swimming pool) then the active ingredient may be in jeopardised.
The Amenity Forum is actively involved in educating all involved in Pesticide application in the Amenity sector. There are updating roadshows taking place throughout the country and information can be found on their website - www.amenityforum.co.uk
While all the above is not meant to be frightening, it illustrates just how much information and legislation must be understood before controlling weeds, diseases and insects.
However, it may be prudent to ask a specialist Company to undertake spraying services for you.
Complete Weed Control has a network of franchisees throughout the UK and Ireland all of whom are Amenity Assured, hold ISO 9001/14002 certification, have their sprayers NSTS tested and all operators hold NPTC certificates.
A survey of each site would be carried out and the correct pesticide for the specific problem would be supplied and applied safely haven taken into account that all the necessary hoops have been jumped through and the empty containers taken away and safely disposed of and keeping the correct record of application.
For more information, visit www.completeweedcontrol.co.uk.